The editor of BCBusiness magazine, Matt O'Grady, last week spoke with the president and CEO of Yellow Pages about the company's recent acquisition of Vancouver magazine and Western Living. Here is an excerpt of Julien Billot's comments about why the titles were purchased and his expectations of what happens now.
Yellow Pages has been rather rapidly getting out of the print business—or repositioning itself as a digital-first company. Why did you decide to purchase Vancouver and Western Living magazines?
The thinking was: more content. That’s the play. What you have to understand is that we have Caroline Andrews* on our team, formerly of TC Media—and she knew these publications very well. The big play here is not about print; it’s about content. Take a look at my phone. Today, we had approval from Apple to launch our new app called YP Dine. All the content from Vancouver magazine and Western Living will help us to feed into this local app. And that’s really the play. We can feed a lot of content into our media platforms.
Yellow Pages CEO Julien Billot
But to generate that content, you don’t really need to have a print product anymore, do you? What is the future of print within the Yellow Pages family?
Let’s forget about print and think about the different usages you can have. You have two types of usages from a digital media perspective. You have search, and you have discovery or serendipity. Print, for me, is more about serendipity. Our major apps are mainly about search. The two parts are very important because if I’m looking for something very precisely, I’m using the search. If I don’t know exactly what to search, and I want to know what’s in the neighbourhood, that’s a different kind of media. Longer term, we really see our evolution in these two types of media: search media and serendipity or more “flipping” type of media. Today it’s on print but tomorrow it could be a very different format—ebooks or emagazines. Some people still prefer a paper book or magazine, but for sure we want to give these magazines more digital opportunities. We are not coming in to shut down print.
Any plans to buy other city or regional magazines?
No. It was a content play and a good tactical opportunity, but we don’t have a plan to buy other magazines.*[Caroline Andrews became vice-president and chief publishing officer of Yellow Pages last June after being vice-president and group publisher of all TC Media's English consumer magazines, in particular the two Vancouver-based magazines in the Western Media Group. Her intimate knowledge of their businesses doubtless facilitated interest and the negotiations to buy them.]